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Inaugural Health Disparities Lecture Series Named for Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen

St Thomas, USVI, (August 4, 2011) - The Caribbean Exploratory NIMHD Research Center for Excellence at the University of the Virgin Islands will present the inaugural Donna M. Christensen Lecture Series during its Fourth Annual Health Disparities Institute, October 19-21, on the island of St Thomas in the U.S.Virgin Islands. The lecture series is named for the Honorable Donna M. Christensen, eighth term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. Dr. Christensen is the first female physician in the history of the U.S. Congress, the first woman to represent an offshore Territory, and the first female delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

CERC Director Dr. Gloria Callwood will chair the conference. "We are very fortunate to have as a part of our community a person such as Delegate Christensen, whose life work has been devoted to improving the health and welfare of Virgin Islanders," Dr. Callwood said. "The Donna M. Christensen Lecture Series, which will be inaugurated at our October Institute, is a fitting tribute in recognition of the important contributions she is making in the area of health for people in the Virgin Islands, the nation and around the world, particularly people of color. We are pleased to be able to acknowledge this grand lady in this manner."

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Dr. Elsie Scott stated that, "Congresswoman Christensen is deserving of this honor and recognition." According to Dr. Scott, "Congresswoman Christensen, as chair of the CBC Health Brain Trust, aids the Foundation in maintaining its authority of minority health policy leadership on Capitol Hill. She provides the CBCF the authority and foundation needed around health issues, legislation and advocacy to improve health outcomes globally. She speaks with knowledge, authority and passion to positively affect people of color globally while speaking to personal issues that have longstanding consequences." Dr. Scott thanks the University of the Virgin Islands for their leadership in recognizing Congresswoman Christensen through this named lecturer for her high achievement, dedication and commitment and love of people.

Dr. Christensen received her bachelor of science degree from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind., and her medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She has held roles in the U.S. Virgin Islands of physician, medical director (of the Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix), territorial assistant commissioner of health, acting commissioner of health; delegate to the Democratic National Conventions for the 1984, 1988, and 1992 presidential elections; and as a television journalist. Dr. Christensen was elected as a Democrat to the 105th Congress (1997) and to the seven succeeding sessions of Congress. She has sponsored or co-sponsored nearly 500 bills and resolutions.

The Donna M. Christensen Inaugural Lecture Series is established to recognize an individual or organization that promotes or improves the health of individuals, families, communities or populations by addressing timely issues in health policy, treatment, research or advocacy. The CERC Executive Committee will announce the inaugural lecturer within the next two weeks.

For more information about the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center and the Fourth Health Disparities Institute, visit or call (404) 559-6191.

About the Caribbean Exploratory NIMHD Research Center for Excellence...

The School of Nursing at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) grant (#5- P20MD 002286) from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) established the Caribbean Exploratory NIMHD Research Center for Excellence, hereafter referred to as the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center (CERC). The CERC will provide opportunities for a concerted focus on access to care, lack of health insurance, low levels of education, high levels of poverty and a growing immigrant population that may represent significant barriers to health care, health promotion, and prevention activities in the Virgin Islands as well as the unique intersections of island history, context, culture, demographics, socio-economic status and other factors that might contribute to health disparities within the islands.